Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in danger, says Mark Lawrenson

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has seen his team struggle in recent games

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers faces a "massive" 10 days that could decide his future at the club, according to former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson.

Rodgers's side edged past Carlisle in the League Cup at Anfield on Wednesday, beating the League Two side 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

They face Aston Villa and Everton in their next two league games, either side of a Europa League tie with Sion.

Lawrenson said Rodgers was "in danger" and the team "lacked character".

Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "I don't like managers getting the sack because I think it is a really difficult job but he's not won for six games - apart from on penalties against a League Two side."

Liverpool won their opening two matches of the season - against Stoke and Bournemouth - but then went five games without victory before eventually overcoming the Cumbrians on Wednesday.

Both of the early season victories were 1-0 - with the win over the Cherries coming after a controversial goal by Christian Benteke, with Philippe Coutinho in an offside position.

"When you analyse it, Stoke City away was won by a wonder goal from Philippe Coutinho with nothing in the game and Bournemouth was a tale of all the decisions going to Liverpool," said Lawrenson.

"At Manchester United - a 3-1 defeat - they just never played, with people out of position, not making chances. When they lost 3-0 at home to West Ham United the nearest to a shot on target was Roberto Firmino against the outside of the post.

"It's just not working at the moment but it is down to everybody. Players take a massive responsibility but at the moment Liverpool have gone back to being a bit rudderless, characterless and seem to have lost their way."

Is Rodgers' job now under serious threat?

Rodgers was backed by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group after a dismal 2014-15 season.

Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan
It took a superb shootout display from Adam Bogdan for Liverpool to see off Carlisle

But the availability of former AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, as well as ex-Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, has increased the appetite for change among some Liverpool fans.

"He's under pressure for his job because he has not won for six games and spent many millions in the transfer market in the summer - that's life," added Lawrenson.

"Steve McClaren is under pressure at Newcastle and some people were saying Jose Mourinho was under pressure at Chelsea the other week.

"I don't think Rodgers can afford to lose any of his next three games.

"Aston Villa is massive and then we have the derby. It's a massive 10 days for him. Absolutely massive."

'A team that met in the car park'

Liverpool went into Wednesday's cup tie on the back of a 1-1 draw against Norwich in the league.

Danny Ings put the Reds in front against Carlisle before Derek Asamoah equalised just after the half-hour mark - and the away side held on through the remainder of normal and extra-time.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers's Liverpool have been tactically confused, playing like strangers, according to Lawrenson

Lawrenson added: "After Sunday against Norwich, the team was balanced. They played with wing-backs, left footers down the left, right footers down the right, two up front and people in the box. It looked as good as it has all season. Against Carlisle it looked the complete opposite.

"No rhyme, no reason, no pattern of play. Liverpool had 40-odd shots and most of them were from outside the box. Carlisle, middle of League Two, kept them at arm's length. It was very samey. You are looking and thinking 'what the hell is happening here?'

"The performance was unacceptable. It lacked cohesion. The team seriously lacks character. Too many players have too many touches on the ball and everyone is trying to do things in a really nice, pretty way.

"Win the football match. It doesn't matter how you play but at times Liverpool played like a collection of people who'd just met each other in the car park before the game."

Apathetic Anfield

Liverpool's pricing policy - with adult tickets ranging from £17 to £23 - meant Anfield was virtually sold out with an attendance of 42,518 on Wednesday - including 6,000 away fans.

Lawrenson was shocked by the lack of atmosphere inside the stadium, which he believes reflects the discontent.

He said: "The fans are now apathetic. They just sat there against Carlisle. They hardly clapped or cheered. They just watched.

"Normally Anfield is lively, electric, lots of shouting. There was absolutely nothing. It was sterile."

He added: "In a classy way the Liverpool fans showed that they thought what they were watching was unacceptable because it was the quietest I've ever known Anfield, apart from those Carlisle fans.

"I think all Liverpool's fans are looking and thinking: 'What are we? Where are we? What are we doing? Are we a team supposed to be trying to get to fourth place? Where is the club going?'. It seems in a state of flux on the pitch at the moment."

Rodgers' main summer transfer buys
£32.5m on striker Christian Benteke from Aston Villa £29m on Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim
Free transfer for midfielder James Milner from Manchester CityUndisclosed fee on Danny Ings from Burnley
£12.5m on right-back Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton£3.5m on left-back Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic

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